Lionsgate and the filmmakers of The Hunger Games announced today that actor Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men, Zombieland) has been cast in the role of Haymitch Abernathy in the adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel.
Said director Gary Ross of the casting decision, “Haymitch is such an unforgettable character: funny cranky outrageous, sarcastic, impatient, biting but ultimately kind. I’m so grateful we have Woody Harrelson to play him. I cant wait for us to get to work.”
A Hunger Games victor himself, Haymitch has assumed the role of official mentor to all future tributes in his native District 12. Though he was strong and attractive in his youth, his years of hard living following his own experiences in the arena have rendered him jaded and unfocused to say the least. He begins to show signs of reinvigoration when he finally sees in Katniss and Peeta a pair of spirited tributes- true contenders whose fate might actually hinge on his advice and guidance.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. Part twisted entertainment, part government intimidation tactic, the Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.
Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
The Hunger Games will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. Collins’ best-selling novel, which has over 3 million copies in print in the United States alone, is the first in a trilogy of novels which have developed a global following.
Lionsgate will release The Hunger Games on March 23, 2012.